So this is it – our first semester together has come to an end! I bet if you had asked any one of us on our first days together (paddling through the rain, as I recall), none of us would have imagined that this semester would go by so fast.
Our last week together started with two ‘Knowing Yourself’ sessions, led by our knowledgeable leaders Jac-oh and Peter. These involved taking the Myers-Briggs personality test and discussing options and ideas for our post-Outtatown futures. We also went over some details regarding our nearer futures in Guatemala and what to expect when we are reunited in 5 weeks. There was much excitement in the room, especially about our 6-week homestays with families in San Juan, so stay tuned to see how those turn out in the second semester!
On Sunday, our site went caving just outside of Hope. We all donned caving outfits and headlamps, split into teams of 4 or 5, and headed underground! These weren’t your typical roomy caves that you might imagine; instead these caves were formed in between boulders that had fallen many years ago, making for some tight squeezes. This activity was a test of not only our physical abilities and levels of claustrophobia, but also our ability to work together as a group. Everyone made it back with no major injuries, but many stories! Some of my favourite moments included being stuck in a crevice between two rocks, unable to move because I was laughing too hard about it with my group, and lying down in the dark with a group of people while singing Christmas carols. It was almost December, after all! After this, we all hurried back to get ready for the next big event that evening – our Christmas party! Thanks to our very own entertainment committee, it was an awesome night full of dancing, decorating cookies, a delicious Christmas feast, and of course, the gift exchange! Our secret Santa gift budget was $3 each, so people got creative, gifting everything from crocheted Christmas unicorns to a potato on skis! You’ll have to ask Becca and Jordan for the story behind that one.
Monday was our second last big driving day, where we drove from Camp Squeah to the Irwin Mountain Inn, located in Banff, AB. It was a long day of driving, but we were all excited to be in the snow in Banff for our last couple days. The next morning, some of our group left for a hike, and others stayed back to explore Banff. My day involved having breakfast at a nice organic bakery in town, buying groceries, and going skating at the indoor rink with a bunch of people. That night, we went out with our mentoring groups for supper. A few other groups had the opportunity to enjoy dinner together as well, including a Greek restaurant.
On Wednesday, we met up with the South Africa site for a day of boarding and skiing at Sunshine Village. For a prairie girl like myself, the idea of making it all the way down the mountain was a little intimidating at first, but once I got into it I had a blast. Our group was at many different ability levels, so while some barely made it down the easy green hills, there were others ripping down the slopes of the black diamonds (both intentionally and not). Overall, fun was had by all and we once again made it out with only a few scrapes and bruises! That night we went out for dinner in our small groups, then relaxed in the hot springs after a long, exhausting day. Our last day together, Thursday, we split up to do a variety of activities. Some returned to the slopes for a second day, some adventured out on cross-country skis, and some people (like myself) spent the day hanging around Banff, complaining about sore muscles from the day before. For our last supper, we joined together and ordered in Thai food, and December birthdays were celebrated with flowers and cards from the group.
On Friday, we were homeward bound after some tearful goodbyes in the hotel lobbies. After a long day of travelling, we all made it back safe and sound to where we started in September: home. I know I’m not alone in having mixed emotions; part of me is so happy to be back in my cozy bed with my kitten, and the other part can’t wait until the plane leaves for our next adventure!
Wishing everyone a Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, stay tuned to hear all about our adventures after the break!
Yours truly, Katheryn